Monday, September 30, 2013


 He sat down and summoned the Twelve. “So you want first place? Then take the last place. Be the servant of all.”  Mark 9:35
Today was a really great day at church.  As always.  The pastor delivered a sermon entitled, "Achieving Greatness."   We all know that greatness in man's eye differs GREATLY from what God considers to be great.  I don't know about you, but I want to be considered GREAT in God's eyes.  I do not want to care what man thinks of me.
And that is hard.  We are human.  Naturally, we want to be loved and accepted by people. But the harsh truth is this:  There are times when, no matter what you do or how much you love, you are not going to be accepted.  Trust me.  I speak from experience. 
You see in Mark chapter 9 verse 35, Jesus is telling His disciples that if they want to be "first,"  (or GREAT), then they must make themselves last.  They must serve.  It does sound a little backwards.  To be first, you must be last.  That is definitely not what man tells us.  According to man, you are great if...
you are pretty
you are rich
you are successful and have an important job
you have a spouse, two kids, a picket fence, a dog, a cat and a goldfish
you have an amazing talent of some kind
And so on.  You get the point.  How discouraging is this list to the average person??  I know that if I use this list to measure my "greatness,"  there's trouble.  I am not the prettiest of people.  I DEFINITELY am not rich.  I don't have a job. I have no spouse, no home and no pets.  I do sing, but it is less than what you would consider to be amazing. 
Fortunately, I work very hard (daily) not to measure myself against man's criteria.  I took it upon myself to compile a short list of what God considers to be great.
 "I’m sure that won’t happen to you, friends. I have better things in mind for you—salvation things! God doesn’t miss anything. He knows perfectly well all the love you’ve shown him by helping needy Christians, and that you keep at it. And now I want each of you to extend that same intensity toward a full-bodied hope, and keep at it till the finish. Don’t drag your feet. Be like those who stay the course with committed faith and then get everything promised to them."  Hebrews 6:9-10

"This is how we’ve come to understand and experience love: Christ sacrificed his life for us. This is why we ought to live sacrificially for our fellow believers, and not just be out for ourselves. If you see some brother or sister in need and have the means to do something about it but turn a cold shoulder and do nothing, what happens to God’s love? It disappears. And you made it disappear."  1 John 3:16-17
"If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand."  Philippians 2:1-4
"I’ve told you these things for a purpose: that my joy might be your joy, and your joy wholly mature. This is my command: Love one another the way I loved you. This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends. You are my friends when you do the things I command you. I’m no longer calling you servants because servants don’t understand what their master is thinking and planning. No, I’ve named you friends because I’ve let you in on everything I’ve heard from the Father.'  John 15:11-15
"Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Enter, you who are blessed by my Father! Take what’s coming to you in this kingdom. It’s been ready for you since the world’s foundation. And here’s why:
I was hungry and you fed me,
I was thirsty and you gave me a drink,
I was homeless and you gave me a room,
I was shivering and you gave me clothes,
I was sick and you stopped to visit,
I was in prison and you came to me.’
37-40 “Then those ‘sheep’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?’ Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.’"  Matthew 25:34-40
"Make sure you don’t take things for granted and go slack in working for the common good; share what you have with others. God takes particular pleasure in acts of worship—a different kind of “sacrifice”—that take place in kitchen and workplace and on the streets." Hebrews 13:16
Live creatively, friends. If someone falls into sin, forgivingly restore him, saving your critical comments for yourself. You might be needing forgiveness before the day’s out. Stoop down and reach out to those who are oppressed. Share their burdens, and so complete Christ’s law. If you think you are too good for that, you are badly deceived." Galations  6:1-3
And there are many, many more where that came from!  Do you see the pattern?  DO SOMETHING FOR SOMEONE ELSE.  Serve.  Give.  I promise you that you will find joy when you SPREAD joy.  Again, I am speaking from experience.  There is a LOT in my life right now that is not at all joyful.  But a smile spread across my face this afternoon while I was filling out paperwork to volunteer at the Children's Hospital.  It made me so happy.  I might play with kids, talk with hurting families, or end up sweeping hallways and cleaning bathrooms.  No matter what I am asked to do, it might not be what "man" considers a success, but it WILL mean something to the heart of God. 
And that's good enough for me. 
It's funny, because when I sat down with my laptop this afternoon, I intended to write something completely different.  Maybe someone (other than me) needed to hear this today? 
I hope so.

No comments: